In Dire Straits of Gibraltar

Midnight transit by Aircraft carrier through the Straits of Gibraltar

Navigating a U.S. Navy attack aircraft carrier throught the Straits of Gibralter–at 25 knots–at midnight. Not just another day at the office for this Junior Lieutenant.

When Navy friends and ship mates get together to relax, invariably the topic gets around to “sea stories.” All of us who have served in the Navy have acquired such stories–funny, surprising, comical, humorous, tragic, poignant–and memorable, always memorable. Sea Stories are as varied as the person reliving them–interesting, exciting, provocative, stimulating, appealing, heartwarming, lively and entertaining–worth telling to a larger audience, sharing with others some unforgettable experiences and preserving precious memories for future generations.

USS F. D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) moving at “All Ahead Flank.”

Qualifying as an Officer of the Deck Underway–OOD u/w–often took junior surface officers years to accomplish.  The Officer of the Deck is that officer on watch in charge of the maneuvering and daily routine of the ship.  Next to the Captain and the Executive Officer–XO—he or she is in command of the ship during the period of their watch.  Earning qualification as an OOD underway was, and is, the most sought after achievement for a junior Surface Warfare Officer.

USS F. D. Roosevelt bridge
On the bridge of the USS F. D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) while on watch as the Officer of the Deck Underway
Notice that bridge watch standers of that day were always in a “Class A” uniform, i.e. coat and tie. The white canvas covering on the binoculars was to avoid getting dirt and grime on the shirt collar. Also note the “butt kit” or cigarette ashtray mounted on the ledge. Smoking was allowed in most ship’s spaces and almost everyone did in those days.

In the early 1960’s, qualifying as an OOD underway required that the JO first prove himself as a Boat Officer and then as an OOD Inport.  Only then, and after many months of standing watches on the bridge under the steely eyes of the Captain, could the JO hope that one day he might receive a letter from the CO announcing that he had fulfilled the requirements.  Only the Captain could sign the letter, when he and the Navigator agreed that you were ready.

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© Copyright 2018 BelleAire Press

Other works by Dr. Connors

Baited Trap, the Ambush of Mission 1890

Now Available As E-Pub

Baited Trap, The Ambush of Mission 1890 is the story of helicopter rescue Mission 1890, one of the most heroic—and costly—air rescues of the Korean War. This harrowing Air Force-Navy mission is explained in compelling detail, creating a detailed personal account of what five incredibly brave and determined Air Force and Navy airmen achieved on June 25, 1952 in the infamous “Iron Triangle.”

The Korean War’s Greatest Love Story

Baited Trap is much more than a heroic war story from the “forgotten war.” It is also the Korean War’s greatest love story, following Wayne and Della Lear, Bobby Holloway, Ron Eaton and Dolly Sharp, and Frankie and Archie Connors as they tried to put their lives and families together even as the Korean War was reaching out to engulf them.

Truckbusters From Dogpatch: the Combat Diary of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing in the Korean War, 1950-1953

Truckbusters from Dogpatch is the most comprehensive Korean War unit history yet prepared–over 700 pages summarizing squadron histories and first person accounts—and includes over 1,000 never before published photographs and images, highlighted by the 8 ½ x 11-inch format.

Arguably, Truckbusters From Dogpatch is the most authoritative unit history ever prepared on the Korean War. In addition to consulting formerly classified squadron histories filed monthly throughout the conflict, the author was in touch with hundreds of veterans of the 18th—pilots and ground crew—whose personal recollections add vivid detail and emotion to the facts recounted in the official documents.

Recent Log Entries by CAPT Connors…
Carrier Captain’s Night Orders: “Call Me…”

After reading these Night Orders you can better appreciate what training, attention to duty, and vigilance was required by underway watchstanders in those days. What has changed since then that has resulted in the recent tragic collisions between U.S. Navy ships and other vessels?

“We do it all!” (USS Saipan LHA-2 motto)

Saipan CO, CAPT Jack Renard, was not exaggerating when he noted that “without exception, SAIPAN is the most versatile instrument of peace or war on the seas today.” Like its motto pointed out, SAIPAN could do it all.

About Tracy Connors

Tracy D. Connors graduated from Jacksonville University (AA), University of Florida (BA), the University of Rhode Island (MA), and Capella University (Ph.D. with Distinction, human services management, 2013). Ph.D. (Honorary), Leadership Excellence, Jacksonville University, December, 2013. Designated a "Distinguished Dolphin" by Jacksonville University, Feb. 2, 2010.